The Niufala Rod Blo Tourism Week took place from the 26th to the 29th of October with over 300 attendees.

The focus was on the Immediate Response and Recovery Plan, the TamTam Travel Bubble, updates from our National Airline, and the impacts of the border closure to businesses. There were presentations and interactive panel sessions around how the Government and Private Sector are working together to be ready in terms of health and safety, business preparedness and public awareness for when the borders open.

But what does the ‘Niufala Rod Blo Tourism’ mean for the medium to long-term future? It has a new and revised vision, with an improvement plan to be implemented, which is the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Strategy (VSTS). This Strategy has combined and aligned and the objectives from the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP), the Vanuatu Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Plan (VTCRRP) and the Provincial Tourism Management Plans. This is how we will improve the management and support for further development of the Tourism Sector.

The implementation of this new VSTS Policy gives us the vision, goals, and objectives to achieve. The ultimate goal is to develop more resilient, diversified and sustainable tourism practices, with more responsible visitors. To assist to achieve this, the Tourism Council of Vanuatu ACT and the Vanuatu Tourism Office ACT are being reviewed and updated, and the organizational structure will change.

The VSTS Implementation Plan and Annual Business Plan will be monitored and evaluated to ensure high performance.

The Tourism Week organizing committee was excited to form a partnership between the Government and unemployed chefs. The local ‘farm to table’ cuisine and ‘slow food’ was a highlight of the week. This was facilitated by the Chefs Association under the Hospitality Tourism Leisure Training Centre (HTLTC). It is awesome that these chefs who lost their jobs over the past few months were able to earn an income.

Another partnership which was formed was one between the Government and the Music Federation. There were two music performances in Saralana Park during the week. The Music Federation has not been functioning for many years and the Government is assisting to formalize the music industry.

The Department of Tourism will be liaising with donor partners to identify a Technical Advisor to help set this up. The objective is to have monthly events for promotions, and for the music industry to have standard performance rates so that music groups have a proper strategy to follow.

The welkam reception was well attended and included a very important ‘Kastom Protocol Blong Tourism Recovery’ between Prime Minister Bob Loughman and the President of Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Chief Willie Plasua for Tourism Recovery and the Safe Business Operations (SBO) Guidelines Policy.

This is essential for dialogue to be disseminated down to all chiefs that the government is coming around to communities for awareness around health and safety, and business readiness training.

The industry representatives from the outer islands all attended their SBO training at the Vanuatu Institute of Technology last Thursday, ensuring they return to their islands having completed this important mandatory training to make sure they meet the measures required to be ‘Clean, Caring and Checked’ in order to carry out risk assessment, and compliance with health measures.

Training for Shefa Tourism businesses starts on the 9th of November. It is compulsory for registered tourism businesses to gain accreditation against the SBO Guidelines, which the Ministry of Tourism has developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, to ensure there are COVID-safe practices in the workplace. There is Supervisor and Worker training courses for Accommodation, Transportation, Retail, Events & Tours, and Food & Beverage scheduled for November.

The final ‘Summary Day’ for the Tourism Week involved a panel Q&A session with 18 Directors, CEO’s and Commissioners from Vanuatu Government Statutory Body’s talking about the Niufala Rod Blo Tourism ‘Patnasip’ for the future.

It was fantastic for the participants, which included over 80 representatives from the outer Islands, to be able to have this long interactive session to have their questions answered.

The week was officially closed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau.

The live session recordings can be found on the Department of Tourism’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/tourismdepartmentvanuatu

For more information, to receive a schedule and to register for the SBO training, please email tourism@vanuatu.gov.vu

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